photograph showcase

Photograph Showcase: Isabella McLaren & Catherine Boles

Great Grandma Brown (1)
Great Grandma, Isabella McLaren and Grandma Brown, Catherine Boles, in Scotland

Several years ago, my cousin Gregg shared this photo with me.  He included this information:

“This was originally from a glass negative.  I printed it a number of years ago.  I have no idea what ever happened to the negatives.  I am not sure who wrote on the negative as well but it may have been Mary.”

For context, Mary is my great-grandmother and Gregg’s aunt.  Here is our shared tree:

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 2.12.06 PM

We have two candidates for “Grandma Brown” – Mary Robertson & Catherine Boles.

We can rule out Mary Robertson because she was never “Grandma Brown”.  Her first husband died when her children were very young and she remarried Edward Wallace when her oldest child was only nine.

Catherine Boles, on the other hand, was only ever Grandma Brown.  She was married to Alexander Robertson Brown until his death in 1896 and then she lived out the remainder of her days as a widow.

The most likely candidate for “Great Grandma” is Isabella McLaren.  Isabella was widowed in 1891.  On the census for that year, she is living with her son Alexander Boles and his wife Isabella Muir.  In 1901 she is living with her daughter Catherine Boles – mother and daughter both widows.  In 1906, at the time of Isabella’s death, it is Catherine’s son Alexander who was the informant of her death.  Isabella died in the home of her daughter Catherine on High Street in Carluke, Lanark, Scotland.

I wonder if the woman in the background is Catherine’s daughter Catherine, my 2nd great-grandmother?  It seems logical that the children would belong to Catherine Brown as she immigrated to the US with her children when they were very young and this photo was among her descendants.  Does that mean these children are hers?  Possibly.

Regardless of who the children are, I feel quite confident that “Great Grandma” is my 4th great-grandmother, Isabella McLaren, widow of James Thomson Boles and that “Grandma Brown” is my 3rd great-grandmother, Catherine Boles, wife of Alexander Robertson Brown.

What a cool photo!



Happy Thursday, a big thank you to my cousin Sheila for asking about this photo which caused me to dig it out and share it.  I hope you make a fantastic photo discovery very soon!  xoxo



Sheila… the largest photo size I had can be found here.




6 thoughts on “Photograph Showcase: Isabella McLaren & Catherine Boles”

  1. Thanks so much Amberly, it’s a real thrilll to see this picture of Isabella and Catherine.My grandfather is listed in that census of 1891, William Boles. He named my dad Alexander Mclaren . I’ve just shown it to my granddaughter Isabelle, we’re keeping the names in the family. This is a precious gift to share, Love Sheila

    1. You are welcome, Sheila! I am so happy to share and glad that you asked about the photo. 🙂

  2. It’s amazing how well researched family trees can help with identifying old photographs. Even though I knew nothing at all about the people in the photographs I was gifted, one by one the pieces fell into place while I added to their tree and was able to identify unknowns in photos. I know how much time this takes and I respect you for sharing these great pictures, Amberly.

    1. Thank you, Cathy. It’s so true! When the tree is well researched the photos are so much easier to sort out. 🙂

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